The Pittsburgh Pirates, one of Major League Baseball’s oldest franchises, has added ex-attorney Bryan F. Stroh from the law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. Stroh has been hired by the Pirates, according to a press release from the law firm. He will become the team’s vice president and general counsel, according to Katten Muchin. A spokeswoman for Katten Muchin confirmed that Stroh resigned from the law firm’s office in Chicago for the front office of the Pirates last month. Stroh had been employed by the law firm for six years.
Katten Muchin’s practice of sports law head, Adam Klein, worked directly with Stroh on quite a few cases. Klein praised Stroh’s positive attitude and personality that were a part of Stroh’s everyday life.
“He is a skilled young attorney who will do a great job. Hopefully, since the Pirates are in the National League, he’ll still find time to root for the White Sox,” the spokeswoman told Law360.
A scandal that included talent scouts and kickbacks arose involving multiple Major League Baseball organizations recently, and Stroh was the representative for the Chicago White Sox in that scandal. The White Sox were cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was alleged that scouts from the White Sox organization identified future stars in Latin America. The scouts would then discuss how much the players might pay in kickbacks to the White Sox scouts and to David Wilder. Wilder was, at the time, the team’s director of player personnel.
“I give him a lot of credit: He saw something he was interested in and went for it,” Klein told Law360 on Thursday.
In February of this year, Wilder decided to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud in federal court in Illinois. Jorge Oquendo Rivera also pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in the same court back in November of this year.
The owner of the White Sox, Jerry Reinsdorf, hired the firm of Katten Muchin to help with the investigation. Reinsdorf was informed about the wrongdoings by a whistleblower. The players who had to kickback money from bonuses upon signing to officials in the organization were interviewed by Stroh and his colleague Sheldon Zenner.
Stroh also worked with the Cleveland Indians and the White Sox on player salary arbitration cases while employed at Katten. Stroh attended Princeton University for his undergraduate degree and obtained his law degree from the University of Virginia. Stroh was a member of the Princeton University varsity baseball team during his academic career.
In order to obtain payments, Wilder, Oquendo and Victor Mateo (another scout) did not provide the White Sox organization with the correct amount of the players’ bonuses. Those three men also left out certain information about the payments issued to the players. This caused the organization to pay fraudulently inflated bonuses to players while also purchasing the contracts of players from other teams at high prices.
“Given his passion for the sport, I’m sure he’d love to get a taste of the operational side,” Klein said.